A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car driving through the country side outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The lights of the city always drown out the stars, so it’s harder to see them unless you’re further away from downtown. As I looked up into the sky, I could see pin pricked lights coming through the darkness and the clouds. I could make out Orion and the Big Dipper as well as the moving lights of a plane no doubt headed for somewhere more exciting than the classroom I was headed to the next day.
As I looked at these balls of light, I was overcome by a feeling of wonder and joy. These stars that lived in the heavens were often symbols of hope and peace for many people. As the subject of fairy tales and motivational stories, stars inspire us to dream and to live. The stars that I saw reminded me of the God that I live for.
One of the things that I find myself wrestling with is vision and hope. I don’t struggle to experience these things, although I used to. In fact, I struggle against them at times. They give me an idea of the potential of a situation, a project, or a dream, but they sometimes prevent me from seeing the reality of the circumstances. Even still, I began to pinpoint exactly why I felt like this was a problem.
Spoiler alert: it’s not. In that moment, I recognized that these visions of the potential hope and happiness that could be in the world stem from a wonder of the world. A wonder of cultures, of nature, of the capabilities of people to overcome adversity and pain, and a wonder of the stars. This wonder often comes out in me in the form of lofty dreams and goals that may never happen, but are fun to think about.
In this moment, I realized that the reason that I get so frustrated when the potential of a situation does not come to fruition, is because I often feel that people don’t believe in or see the same vision or the wonder that I do. I suddenly felt the intense desire to convey the depth of the wonder and joy that I feel about the world to anyone and everyone that I possible could.
And just like that, I felt overwhelmed by the love of the Lord. Overwhelmed by a feeling of thankfulness for feeling this deep wonder and excitement for what the world had to offer. And, overwhelmed by the onset of a thought that this depth and wonder that I feel for the world in this moment is like a drop in the ocean of God’s love for me and for everyone in this world.
In reality, every feeling of happiness and wonder is really from the depth of God’s love. This wonder that I felt, this insatiable desire to share my love for the world and to share my joy with everyone, so that others could be happy and at peace, was how much God must want to share His love with us – and even more so than I felt this.
Growing up, we would talk about God’s love being deep, and long, and wide (Ephesians 3:17-19). We’d talk about it in church, Vacation Bible School, at church camp, and in Sunday School. We always talked about how deep is must be, and I never understood why the words long and wide were used. I think that wonder is the word I would use to describe God’s love. It’s just awe-inspiring. It is unconditional, and it heals. It forgives. It doesn’t forget, but it moves past pain and moves past betrayal to confront the sorrow and sin head-on. This is so much harder than trying to forget the past. God’s love is overwhelming. It will consume us, and it will move us.
By recognizing that God’s love is full of wonder and also deep, it shows that it is alive and in motion. It’s depth is beyond our understanding, and nothing can compare to it. My favorite book in the Bible is Hosea. Hosea is a prophet, and he marries a prostitute after God tells him to. Now, Hosea’s family probably told him “I wouldn’t do that,” and “she’s going to sleep around and hurt you,” but Hosea in faith followed the Lord. And this is great and all, to follow the Lord in faith (it’s not just great, it’s incredible), but to me, the part that sticks out the most is how Hosea LOVED her. When she did abandon him for another man, Hosea went and got her back. He didn’t abandon her because she hurt him, and he didn’t hate her afterwards. I’m sure it was hard, but he loved her. This is such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. While we repetitively chose other things over him, he always provides us with a loving embrace to return to. This isn’t just a waiting game for God, He actively seeks us out to love us.
And this is the wonder of God’s love. That He loves unconditionally, through the pain He must experience in our betrayals, and He loves deep enough to cover our sin through His Son.